Winter's story is very gripping. If you are unfamiliar, she got entangled in the rope of a crab trap. She was discovered by a fisherman that noticed a buoy bouncing strangely and decided to investigate it. He cut her free, but she was badly injured. He called for help, and the Clearwater Marine Hospital Rescue team picked her up. Unfortunately, the rope strangled off blood flow to her tail, and she eventually lost her tail. Dolphins need that flanged tail (as a flipper, up and down) to swim. Even though dolphins are marine animals, they need to come up for air to breathe quite often- and she couldn't swim. She had to learn to swim wiggling side to side (like a shark). She got better at it with practice, but unfortunately her swimming that way lead to a serious spinal condition that threatened her life. She needed to be able to move her tail up and down again to correct it.
A company that makes prosthetics for people learned of her story and volunteered to make a special prosthetic tail for her. She didn't take to it at all and banged it against the sides of the pool to get it off. They designed many different tails, she continued rejecting each. They were desperate to design something that would work, since her life depended on it. The designing of so many tails and sleeves (the sock-like thing) you place between skin and a prosthetic lead to many scientific and engineering breakthroughs in prosthetic designs used for people!
She lives at the Clearwater Aquarium and Marine Hospital; in Clearwater, FL. They are a wonderful facility that rehabilitates and releases all animals that can safely be released back to the wild. In Winter's case, she would not be able to survive the wild, so she will remain living there. That place does a lot of great work. They even provide hope and encouragement for amputee children and military vets, by providing them special visits with Winter.
Hope arrived a few years later, with injuries. Her injuries were much less severe. She eventually made a full recovery, but she was too young to survive the wild without her mother teaching her necessary survival skills, so she lives there too- and the two dolphins have developed a very strong bond.
We always said that whenever we had a chance to take a cruise out of Florida, we'd plan to go out of a port near Clearwater so we could go to the Aquarium and visit Winter and Hope..... we were so excited to do just that!
This is Hope!
We got to watch Winter and Hope work with their trainers!
I have really awesome videos- I'll be posting soon!
She was swimming without her tail!
The Stingray Touch Pool!
We love Rufus! The "pesky pelican" added so many cute and funny elements to the movies.
We were so excited to meet Rufus. Here he is, his real name is "Ricky."
They have the coolest aviary under construction right now that will be his future oasis- it is HUGE!
Look at the cute little ones getting rest for their cruise in the morning!